IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Capacity constraints, asymmetries, and the business cycle


  • Gary D. Hansen

    (University of California, Los Angeles)

  • Edward C. Prescott

    (Arizona State University)


We study how an occasionally binding capacity constraint affects the properties of business cycles. A real business cycle model is constructed where production takes place at individual plants and the number of plants operated varies over the cycle. The capacity constraint binds in states where all plants are operated. We derive the aggregate production function for this economy, which turns out to differ from the standard Cobb.Douglas function while retaining its desirable properties. The business cycle features of this one-sector growth model are similar to those of a standard real business cycle model in most respects. Our model does, however, display some properties of actual economies that standard models do not. In particular, business cycles in our model are asymmetric--troughs are deeper on average than peaks are tall. Also, labor's share of income is counter-cyclical, as it is in US data. (Copyright: Elsevier)

Suggested Citation

  • Gary D. Hansen & Edward C. Prescott, 2005. "Capacity constraints, asymmetries, and the business cycle," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 8(4), pages 850-865, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:issued:v:8:y:2005:i:4:p:850-865
    DOI: 10.1016/

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Full text
    Download Restriction: Access to full texts is restricted to ScienceDirect subscribers and ScienceDirect institutional members. See for details.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rogerson, Richard, 1988. "Indivisible labor, lotteries and equilibrium," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 3-16, January.
    2. Simon Gilchrist & John C. Williams, 2000. "Putty-Clay and Investment: A Business Cycle Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 928-960, October.
    3. Hansen, Gary D., 1985. "Indivisible labor and the business cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 309-327, November.
    4. Gomme, Paul & Greenwood, Jeremy, 1995. "On the cyclical allocation of risk," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 19(1-2), pages 91-124.
    5. Greenwood, Jeremy & Hercowitz, Zvi & Huffman, Gregory W, 1988. "Investment, Capacity Utilization, and the Real Business Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(3), pages 402-417, June.
    6. Burnside, Craig & Eichenbaum, Martin, 1996. "Factor-Hoarding and the Propagation of Business-Cycle Shocks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(5), pages 1154-1174, December.
    7. Sichel, Daniel E, 1993. "Business Cycle Asymmetry: A Deeper Look," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 31(2), pages 224-236, April.
    8. repec:cup:macdyn:v:3:y:1999:i:4:p:506-33 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1991. "Hours and Employment Variation in Business Cycle Theory," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 1(1), pages 63-81, January.
    10. Ellen R. McGrattan & Edward C. Prescott, 2000. "Is the stock market overvalued?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 20-40.
    11. Andreas Hornstein & Edward C. Prescott, 1989. "The firm and the plant in general equilibrium theory," Staff Report 126, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    12. Cooley, Thomas F & Hansen, Gary D & Prescott, Edward C, 1995. "Equilibrium Business Cycles with Idle Resources and Variable Capacity Utilization," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 6(1), pages 35-49, June.
    13. Altug, Sumru & Ashley, Richard A. & Patterson, Douglas M., 1999. "Are Technology Shocks Nonlinear?," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(04), pages 506-533, December.
    14. Jean-Fran├žois Fagnart & Omar Licandro & Franck Portier, 1999. "Firm Heterogeneity, Capacity Utilization and the Business Cycle," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(2), pages 433-455, April.
    15. L. Wade, 1988. "Review," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 58(1), pages 99-100, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Capacity utilization; Asymmetric business cycles; Real business cycles;

    JEL classification:

    • E13 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Neoclassical
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:red:issued:v:8:y:2005:i:4:p:850-865. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Christian Zimmermann). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.